My name is Meg, and I have a baby girl, Lola. Prior to having Lola in 2021, I worked over 80 long hours a fortnight and was very passionate about my job in Aged Care, leading a team of 10-15 staff.
I was, and still am, really proud of the career I’ve built. In fact, I’m so passionate about what I do that I worked right up to 38 weeks, and even then, still wasn't ready to walk out the doors and start my new chapter.
Lola was born full term, after I was induced. A special yet traumatic birth and an experience I’ll never forget. My labour wasn’t very long and I was so lucky to have the most amazing midwife and dear friend by my side to support me and deliver Lola.
During my labour I was oblivious to the fact that something wasn’t quite right with Lola. The pain was at the forefront of my mind, and I was just doing all I could to cope with every quick contraction.
After pushing for roughly an hour, I was told to stop pushing and that I required an episiotomy immediately as Lola wasn’t coping with the contractions.
Not long after that, my tiny 2.5kg of perfection was born, Lola Levy.
Next moment, our room was swarmed with midwives, doctors and every man and his dog - or that’s how it felt.
Lola wasn’t breathing…
The umbilical cord was quickly cut by a midwife and Lola was whisked away and surrounded by obstetricians and midwives.
I was left in total disbelief at everything that had just happened, left wondering where my baby was, what was going on and whether she would be okay. It was so full on.
Not long after Lola was delivered, the obstetrician started video calling Melbourne, speaking to a specialist team and getting instructions on what to do.
I still had no idea what was going on, my husband Ash was right by my side, himself in shock and disbelief at what was going on around us.
Thirty or so minutes later, we finally got movement and life from Lola - the best news ever!
The relief was short lived as my baby was again taken away, albeit for good reasons. I was told she needed to be flown to Melbourne and that the chopper was on its way.
My heart sank and shattered.
Along with this news we were told there was no room on the chopper for either myself or my husband, and right around Victoria was bed blocked due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so I was unable to be transferred with her. This meant if I wanted to see my baby, I would need to be discharged.
A few hours later, still lying in the same positionI’d birthed Lola in, yet to hold or see my baby, the PIPER team arrived (Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval) to transport Lola to Melbourne. To this day when I hear an emergency helicopter, my heart sinks.
I’m forever grateful for this service, and for the compassionate, caring team that recognised that 3-4 hours after having my baby girl, I still hadn’t seen her or held her. Immediately, they made sure Lola was stable, and put her on me for my first cuddle - a moment I’ll never forget.
Lola was taken to Melbourne for precautionary checks to make sure no damage was done as a result of her not breathing for 30 minutes post-birth. Thankfully, she smashed all her checks, and has never looked back.
My husband and I were discharged from our rural hospital the next day and made the long, uncomfortable trip down to Melbourne to be with our girl. I was so worried she wouldn’t know me or be attached to me having missed those first crucial skin to skin moments you hear about.
By the third day, we were able to bring Lola home. Being in a special care unit that was incredibly busy due to COVID-19, we were given some formula, a bit of information on how to give it to her and sent on our way. We still hadn’t spent a night with her, been shown how to breastfeed or told anything about how to keep her alive. Thank you Google!
We thought we were out of the woods, and heading into the most beautiful time of our lives in our little newborn bubble... Boy were we wrong.
A few months passed where we were just running off adrenaline and learning the ropes, and then came the extreme sleep deprivation. Lola hit that point where she would only take 30 minute cat naps during the day, was up every hour during the night, and the only way to get her to sleep longer was by having her on me. I felt trapped! Everyone I spoke to said things like ‘enjoy those newborn cuddles and those moments’. Yes, I loved the cuddles, but being quite independent and busy all the time until recently, I wasn’t used to feeling like I’d not achieved anything in my day and was so desperate for a moment to myself and some rest.
I got to a point where the sleep deprivation became postnatal depression. The thought of a new day and doing it all again I just couldn't handle.When I saw my partner walk out the door for work each morning, I'd just burst into tears. I never wanted to harm Lola, but I always felt she’d be better off without me. Thankfully my husband and I did recognise that I couldn't continue feeling this way, and spoke to the maternal child health nurse who referred me for a further assessment. It was then suggested that I go to a Mother and Family Unit in Ballarat to get some help and rest.
Ashamed, scared and every other emotion, I did it. I went and got admitted.
I felt like a huge failure for ending up there. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be in a mental health facility. We are so lucky to have these services looking out for us mothers and bubs. This particular facility didn’t work out for us, but I'm so glad I tried it and started the process of getting the additional care I needed.
On proper medication, with good support around me, and Lola slightly improving with her sleep, I was just re-energised enough to keep going.
Desperate to further improve Lola’s sleep, I spent a lot of money on sleep programs and sleep consults, but I found a lot were either straight to the point - ‘do it this way or no way’ - or just didn’t give me the support I needed. I’m a person who likes to ask a million questions and if I can’t get an answer, it makes me anxious, and I found a lot of the consults had a limit on how many questions, texts or emails you could send.
I appreciated the support I got from each consultant, but it did spark a new passion and interest of mine, wanting to know more about sleep, and to be that person who supports parents and carers along this crazy sleep journey.
I hope I can help many mums/carers and babies get their well deserved rest and not have to suffer in silence. People like to say that you’ll never get sleep again once you have a baby, and it’s time we stop scaring mums and carers with statements like this that just aren’t true, and instead give them the tools and support they need to create good sleep habits.
That is the aim of Lullaby Lola.